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Poster: ghostofpig Date: May 2, 2007 5:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kent State Shootings (non GD)

I think I wrote about this some months ago, but . . . .

I was a freshman at Kenyon College in Ohio in 1970. The anti-war movement was in full swing--though it was populated not only by genuine peace lovers, but jerks out for some faux radical yucks and even worse jerks out to see what they could get away with. Middle class revolutionaries. Try to remember that the Jefferson Airplane was sing about "gotta revolution," the Stones were singing about a "Street Fighting Man"--and so on. It was cool to be a weekend anarchist.

When Nixon invaded Cambodia on April 25, the shock wave spread around American college campuses like wildfire. It served to galvanize the student community and spur them into
primarily peaceful action. Protests erupted nationwide, and, one campus in particular, became the focal point of the student response.

Kent State is around three hours from the campus that I attended. As was and still is common, we had a few loose connections at Kent State who invited us to come and join their rally against the war. Mind you, my campus was small (4,000 students on a good day), isolated, and not particularly central to anything in particular.

So, on May 2, off we went to Kent, Ohio, to see what we could see. Truth is, when we arrived, things were already messy. On Friday, May 1, there had been riots in town started by a biker brawl in a bar. Didn't take much to light the fire, tensions already being high. The ROTC building had been torched, and this became the focal point of the rally. Gov. Rhodes called the guard in at the request of the local authorities as a result. Mind you--there was no "leadership" on the side of the protesters. Things were running under the influence of adrenaline and not intelligence.

Things got worse. Skirmishes became more frequent as students (and non-students) taunted and tested the guardsman, as if to prove how gutsy their new found radicalism had made them. Back and forth, out of control. Violence begat violence--mostly on the part of the burgeoning rioters. The poor guardsmen--many of them fellow students trying to pay off their college tuitions since, unlike many of the protesters, mom and dad couldn't foot the bill--the poor guardsmen were staring down the barrels of their rifles at their own brothers and sisters. Those with whom I spoke afterward wish they had never been called up. A few quit the guard rather than face that situation again.

By May 4, no on had control--anywhere--and the inevitable was in the air. As the first waves of tear gas clouded the otherwise gorgeous spring day, my friends and I realized that this was not the place to be and left. We turned on CBS newsradio (the precurser to CNN) and heard the newsflash that the guard had opened fire (surprise) and that there had been student casualties. Turns out that the dead and wounded were over three hundred feet away from the guardsmen. Those nearby were unscathed. The guard were firing defensively, without leadership, and were aiming above the rioters.

The nation shuddered, astounded. Campuses closed--some to be protective, some to be proactive. Ours did not. We didn't see the point in that. The point had already been made. American was at war with itself--a war that dated back to Chicago 1968--if not earlier. If Altamont was the death blow to the Woodstock nation, Kent State was the death blow to the pure idealism of intelligent dissent.

Like Dickens said: 1970 was the best of times and it was the worst of times. But it is a time that will never come 'round again.

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Poster: rastamon Date: May 2, 2007 6:08am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kent State Shootings (non GD)

It was a dark day indeed. If the guard had been purposely firing into the crowd and not over, scores more would have been killed.
Lots of idealists grew up to the reality that protests were not just a lark. You keep prodding a "bear" and it's bound to swipe back. (No rubber bullets then i guess).
A few weeks earlier on a black campus, worse had happened, with no national press coverage

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: May 2, 2007 6:23am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kent State Shootings (non GD)

Jackson State (Actually May 14/15)--it really woke me up that four middle class white students stayed in the headlines while the two black men killed at Jackson State remained footnotes.

Of course, we is talkin' 'bout Mississippi.

That was the month that sucked.

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Poster: midnight sun Date: May 2, 2007 12:13pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kent State Shootings (non GD)

"No rubber bullets then i guess"

guess again...the unanswered question as to why rubber bullets were not employed was front and center at the time

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Poster: BryanE Date: May 2, 2007 6:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kent State Shootings (non GD)


As articulately detailed as it is painful to recall, I'm sure. Thanks for imparting your memories.

One clarification, and by no means is it my intent to be argumentative, but as far as the National Guardsmen's lack of leadership, isn't that at the center of this new revelation, that there was actually an order to fire? It very well may have been an act of panic, but apparently someone among their ranks took it upon himself to make that call.

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: May 2, 2007 7:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kent State Shootings (non GD)


Dubious at best. The command sequence heard on the tape does not follow command protocol, according to testimony. The noise level was so outrageous that no one would have been able to clearly hear a command of any sort. Basically, the guard was lost, trying to go this way and that, until their backs were up against the wall. It is believed that they pointed their weapons and someone started firing. Most of the guardsmen aimed over the heads of the crowd, indicating that they did not wish to hit anyone. If the order had been given to fire (remember that they were in total disarray and didn't know what was what), there would have been more than four killed that day. My belief is that they were in a defensive posture, scared half to death, and they only wanted to disperse a crowd that had thus far failed to move at all.

Some time after the incident, a fellow student/guardsman who had been there, and whom we believed, said as much--that they fired out of fear and that they fired high--but they faced a hill--and 350 feet away, death arrived.

I do not fault the guardsmen. I fault Governor Rhodes for being such a fascist buffoon. Of course, the protesters aren't innocent either.

But I'm not buying into the tape. No one heard the alleged command then and there.

It was like a scene from hell. No one could stop it. No one.

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